A list of Vegan Taste and Texture Alternatives you should add to your plate when going vegan or just exploring.
When first going vegan what really worked for me to focus on adding new stuff to my plate instead of becoming someone that can’t eat meat and dairy.
Here is a list of easy-to-find and not-fussy-to-use game-changers for you to consider adding them to your cuisine asap.
This is not intended as an ultimate guide for Cooking but rather a comprehensive list of things to explore and find for yourself what can help you with a Taste and Texture you might miss at the beginning of your journey to veganism.
Maybe it doesn’t substitute at all for you but it can be a nutritional and tasty addition to your cuisine.
Let’s add all we can and see what we actually miss after that. Sounds good?🌶
Jackfruit – Vegan Texture
What is it: a fruit, but think of it as an ingredient.
Taste: pulled pork, chicken, crab, tuna.
Nutrients: vitamin C and other essential nutrients.
Tip: play a bit with the size and type you cut as the texture can be as important as the actual taste sometimes.
Seitan – Vegan Texture
What is it: vital wheat gluten, made from wheat protein.
Texture: duck, beef, bacon and sausage.
Tip: just as with meat, size and thickness matter, a lot.
Nuts, Grains, Legumes and Seeds – Vegan Taste
Which ones: oat, rice, peanut, soy, almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, walnut, coconut.
Taste: milk and dairy products.
Nutrients: in general, fat, fiber and protein.
Tip: they are all milk, only not. The trick is mixing.
Maybe you won’t find one type that you use with everything. But that’s the beauty of each, more different tasting options.
Not to mention that you can mix with one another.
With oatmeal I love coconut milk plus soy milk. If I add some chocolate, for example, to this oatmeal, I just might swap the soy milk for a hazelnut milk.
Tofu – Vegan Texture
What is it: meat substitute made from soybeans.
Taste: meat and chicken.
Nutrients: complete protein.
Tip: brands. It does change a lot.
Keep in mind that even if a particular brand makes your favorite vegan butter might not be your tofu of choice.
Tempeh – Vegan Texture
What is it: fermented soybeans, firmer in texture than Tofu.
Taste: meat and bacon.
Nutrients: protein, prebiotics, other vitamins and minerals.
Tip: keep it thin. Slicing it like bacon or cutting in little cubes work wonders.
Maple syrup – Vegan Taste
What is it: sap from the xylem of sugar maple or other species of maple tree, mainly sucrose and water.
Taste: it is not honey but it is a liquid sweeter, shouldn’t be too hard to make the swap.
Nutrients: antioxidants and minerals.
Tip: check the label, some versions are not 100% pure.
Nutritional Yeast – Vegan Taste
What is it: is one species of yeast, which are members of the fungus family, they are grown to be used as a food ingredient so the yeast cells are not alive in the final product, it is nutritional but does not help leaven.
Taste: it is not a cheese, that said, it has a pungent taste that can resemble the taste of cheese and even nut.
Nutrients: it is a source of complete protein, some B vitamins and minerals. It is common to find the fortified version, containing specially thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and even vitamin B12, so rarely found non animal sourced.
Tip: It is very helpful to think of it as an ingredient of something (sauce, soup, powder, tofu and so on) that you want to have some of the flavors found in a cheese.
Actually, it is very helpful to think like that towards pretty much every food when starting to go vegan.
Agar Agar – Vegan Texture
What is it: a polysaccharide obtained from red algae.
Texture:, like gelatin. No taste.
Nutrients: A lot of fiber. No other significant amounts of any nutrients.
Tip: as it is tasteless it is super easy to use it instead of the gelatin.
The proportion is not the same thou, instead of a 1:1 (agar agar : gelatin) ratio, try 1:2 or 1:3, as the agar is firmer and resists better to heat than gelatin.
Aquafaba – Vegan Texture
What is it: water from soaked chickpeas (canned or not).
Texture: egg white.
Nutrients: not enough to be considered a valuable source.
Tip: me talking about texture again…try adding your aquafaba to some (or any) of your liquid dishes. Like creams, soup, smoothies (made at home version, or not, if you are feeling adventurous).
Cashews – Vegan Texture
What is it: you know, right? If not, sorry, there is a picture above😉
Texture: savory cream (never seen or tried a sweet recipe but we might work, with a bit of creativity).
Nutrients: fiber, heart-healthy fats and good source of protein. Also various important minerals.
Tip: blending them raw with water makes an excellent creamy texture. Just add some Nutritional Yeast and you’ve got yourself some vegan Mac&Cheese!
Coconut milk – Vegan Taste
What is it: white, thicker than milk, liquid extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts.
Taste: sweet heavy cream.
Nutrients: mainly fats, the good kind, but worthy minding the calories here.
Tip: think savory!, sweets with that are just way too easy.
Asian, South and Central America do it like pros. and by the way are excellent sources of vegan recipes. Not necessarily because they are vegan, they only have a more plan-based cuisine.
Black Salt (Kala Namak) – Vegan Taste
What is it: is a kiln-fired rock salt.
The original rock is black in color (from the fire) however, inside is pink. So, it’ll probably arrive to you as a pink powder. Pay attention when buying.
Worth mentioning that it can also be called “Himalayan black salt”, which can complicate things further because there are also other Himalayan salts that have nothing to do with this egg taste one. Make sure is called Kala Manak
Taste: Egg (for real)
Nutrients: mainly Potassium.
Tip: mind the amount.
Think of it as a sweetener. If it is not yet sweet enough you need to be super careful because in excess it wont taste sweeter, but bitter. Same thing here, don’t overdo it to make it eggier. Experiment with other ingredients or give it a chance in another recipe altogether.
Final Vegan Taste Tips for Beginners:
- When trying a vegan alternative, for example cheese, try not to eat the regular dairy version for a few days, a week if possible. To be a bit less biased.
- Still using cheese as our example.
If your cheesy guilty pleasure is mac&cheese, maybe start your vegan trial with sliced cheese inside different sandwiches.
Again, trying to give a fair chance without comparing too much.
- I’ve said before under tips to some of the items in the list above but it is a general tip when well…eating. Play with Size, Texture, different Mixes in general.
- Be kind with the new food you are trying, especially if it has arrived to you as an alternative to something you love already.
When it comes to food habits play a very important role.
- Don’t black list something just yet.
Blame the outcome of that particular dish, maybe in a different recipe, different dish, or just another day or time, you will have a different experience too.
- Remember that the mindset of adding is somewhat more useful than that of “I can’t eat meat or dairy anymore”.
Ready to learn a bit more? Check out my post on The Plate Method. Useful for vegans and omnivorous alike.